The world’s best BMX riders are poised to pedal into Abbotsford in September.
The track at Exhibition Park will play host to a Supercross World Cup Series event Sept. 14-15, featuring the best female and male BMX riders from over 30 different countries – many of whom will have competed the month prior at the Summer Olympics in London.
Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the sport’s governing body, announced Thursday that Abbotsford had been awarded the event, thanks to a bid from Cycling BC.
The Supercross World Cup Series is broadcast around the globe to millions of viewers and offers a total prize purse of $150,000. Steve Baxter, president of Abbotsford BMX, said that landing the right to host an event of this stature is a thrill.
“There are only four of these (World Cup races) each year in the world, so to get an event like this is a huge deal,” he enthused. “It’s essentially an Olympic-sized event at our track. The kids and the adults from our club, and everyone in the middle, are really excited.”
September’s races will mark the first time a Supercross World Cup event has ever been contested in Canada, and it’s only possible because of extensive infrastructure upgrades to the Exhibition Park track.
Last summer, construction was completed on a new start hill, standing 28 feet in height and with a steep 27-degree slope. The hill – nearly identical to the one used for the 2008 Beijing Olympics – was built at a cost of about $260,000, which was covered through a variety of grants, fundraising initiatives, and volunteer labour.
The supercross hill is currently the only one of its kind in Canada, opening the door for Cycling BC to finally bid on big-time international events.
“Cycling BC and the Abbotsford BMX Club shared a vision to build an Olympic standard facility that could meet the needs of local BMX riders as well as support the development of current and future Olympians,” Keith Ryan, CEO for Cycling BC, noted in a press release. “Importantly, the City of Abbotsford has a great passion for sport and has been very supportive of BMX in their community, so we also had a great location for an Olympic track.”
INDOOR BMX TRACK A HIT
The World Cup Series is the big event on the horizon, but in the meantime, Abbotsford BMX is operating an indoor track at the Agrifair Arena during the winter.
The facility is one of the only indoor tracks in Canada, and Baxter said riders come from around B.C. and even the United States to escape the soggy winter weather.
“A lot of the top riders come and live out here during the times we have the (indoor) track up and running, so they can get some time on the bike,” Baxter noted. “They really like the facility.”
The indoor track is open to riders five nights a week. The BMXers practice Tuesday through Thursday, with races Saturday and Sunday. The Fraser Valley Mountain Bikers Association also hosts races on Tuesday evenings.
BMX riders hone their skills on the indoor track at Agrifair Arena.